running-advice-bugJerry Seinfeld once joked about Silver Medalists in the Olympics that after having perhaps the best race of their lives they were asked, “what happened? Did you trip? Did you fall?” It’s just hard for people to believe that someone could be that close to winning and not have had their best day anyway. I’m in the midst of such a journey right now, having finished fourth in the US National Duathlon Championships, people have already asked me such questions as “did you have a flat? Was it a bad day? We’re you not feeling your best?” And to all of those questions, I have to say no. In fact, I did exactly what I set out to do in that race and I’m very happy about it.

At the start of the USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014

At the start of the USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014

How can you be happy when you don’t end up the winner? The answer is by setting and achieving goals that are measured by your own performance, rather than by the performance of others. Let me explain as my good friend Coach Dean Hebert explained it to me years ago and give you a three step process for setting objective goals.

First, we start by setting performance goals for ourselves that are both measurable and objective. Goals that are measurable and objective are ones that we can test to determine whether we have actually met them. Some good examples of measurable goals would be be to “run the race in X time”, to come through a race without injury or “to run 5% faster than last year.” All of these are things that we can look at after the race and answer whether we met them with a yes or no question. Contrast this with goals that are subjective such as “I want to do better than last year” or to “go as hard as I can.” Objective and measurable goals are ones that you could ask someone else whether you met or not and with the right data they would be able to answer them correctly.

Second, goals need to be based on your own performance or conditions that are under your own control. This is where the real pitfalls come into play. If you set goals based on someone else’s performance they would include things like this: “I want to win,” “I want to beat my rival,” or “I just don’t want to finish last.” Any of these statements have dependencies on other people in order to measure them and this is where we get in trouble. You can’t control who else shows up for the race and what they do. An Olympic champion might show up some morning at your local race and reasonably blow you and the whole field out of the water, even if you run a the PR performance of your dreams.

So how does one set a goal that reaches to beat the competition but can still be measured and falls under our own control? You take your performance goal and map it to what it is that you would need to do to succeed. For example, rather than saying “I want to win” you would set a goal to “run the race in X time” where that time would be good enough to win based on what you know about the race. You then can measure whether you performed against that goal (“Did I run my goal time?” Yes or no.) If that Olympian shows up and blows you away, well, you’ve still done what you set out to do.

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running-advice-bugST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Payne and Kirsten Sass captured overall standard-distance titles while Nathan Hoffman and Patty Peoples-Resh raced their way to overall sprint titles at the 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held Saturday at Harriet Island Regional Park.

Nathan Hoffman wins 2014 overall Sprint Duathlon title

Nathan Hoffman wins 2014 overall Sprint Duathlon title

Nathan Hoffman (South Haven, Minn.) posted the fastest time of the day in the sprint race at Duathlon Nationals. (Photo: Mario Cantu/CIMAGES)

Payne (Columbia Heights, Minn.) clocked in at 1 hour, 16 minutes, 25 seconds on the 4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run to claim the overall victory as well as the male 35-39 age group title. Dave Slavinski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) posted a time of 1:16:46 for second overall and first in the male 40-44 age group and masters division. Thomas Woods (Lincoln, Neb.), also in the 40-44 age group, was third overall in 1:17:35.

“Really, I would say we have the most competitive duathlon scene anywhere right here,” Payne said. “I knew if I had a good race, I had a shot. Any time you get something like this in your backyard, you have to do it.”

Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) was the top finisher for the women, picking up the women’s overall title along with the win in the female 35-39 age group, finishing in 1:25:10. Dani Fischer (Wausau, Wis.) was second overall after a penalty set her finish time back to 1:26:06, which was still solid enough for the female 25-29 age group championship, and Brenda Williams (Cornville, Ariz.) sealed her female masters and 40-44 wins in 1:27:46, finishing third overall.

“I was hoping for a good day out there and just gave it what I had,” Sass said. “It’s a very supportive environment and that’s what drew me to triathlon in the first place, and that goes for duathlon as well. Everybody is out there encouraging everybody else, and I just think that’s incredible.”

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running-advice-bugJuly 19, 2014 (Avon, CO) – Josiah Middaugh, 35, of Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Chantell Widney, 34, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured the 2014 XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO today.

Josiah Middaugh wins Xterra Mtn Champs 2014

Josiah Middaugh wins Xterra Mtn Champs 2014

It’s the third time in four years Middaugh has won the race, while it’s the first major XTERRA victory for Widney.

Middaugh was more than a minute behind the leaders out of the one-mile swim in Nottingham Lake but quickly biked his way to the front of the pack. He posted the fastest bike and run times of the day and won going away in 2:07:22, more than five minutes ahead of runner-up Ben Hoffman from Boulder.

“It was a special day for me, everything kind of clicked,” said Middaugh. “You’d think that would happen more often on my home course but I’ve had a lot of dismal races here so it was good to put it all together and have one of those days where everything felt really good. It’s a really hard course but I was happy to suffer through it.”

His bike split, 1:09:32, was almost three minutes faster than the next best of Ryan Petry, and his run was 30-seconds better than the lightning quick 18-year-old Mauricio Mendez. Making that all the more impressive, Middaugh suffered three broken ribs in a bike crash just three weeks ago.
“Just one of those things,” said Middaugh. “It hurts a lot, and it’s not very easy to breath. I actually thought it was going to be a so-so day but it turned out to be a great day. Mauricio was the last one I passed on the bike (before mile three) and I really thought there would be more guys out front longer.”

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running-advice-bugNearly 650 athletes from 44 states and Washington, D.C., are on the start list for this Saturday’s 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Harriett Island Regional Park. The race will be held July 19th, 2014.

Joe English will attempt to repeat in the Sprint Distance Championship in 2014

Joe English will attempt to repeat in the Sprint Distance Championship in 2014

After a three-year stint in Tucson/Oro Valley, Arizona, St. Paul will host the best duathletes in the country this weekend and again in 2015. Age-group duathletes and paraduathletes will race their way to national titles in both standard-distance (4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run) and sprint-distance (2.9k run, 20.8k bike, 2.7k run) events. Races will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT on July 19 with the standard-distance race, followed by the sprint race at 11:45 a.m. CT. Visit usatriathlon.org/du14 for complete event details, and follow the race live at usatriathlon.org/du14coverage.

Twenty-three returning national champions highlight the field in Saturday’s races:

Sprint Defending Champions
Michael Ashworth (M30-34, Jersey City, N.J.)
Margaret Bomberg (F75-79, Chico, Calif.)
Celia Dubey (F40-44, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Joe English (M40-44, Hillsboro, Ore.)
Terry Habecker (M65-69, Ithaca, N.Y.)**
Janet Jarvits (F45-59, Pasadena, Calif.)
Heysoon Lee (F70-74, Morristown, N.J.)**
David Morrow (M60-64, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Patty Peoples-Resh (F55-59, Redlands, Calif.)
Kristin Villopoto (F50-54, Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Timothy Winslow (M19U, Elk Grove, Calif.)**
Standard-Distance Defending Champions
Andy Ames (M50-54, Boulder, Colo.)
Donald Ardell (M75-79, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Jason Atkinson (M30-34, Alamogordo, N.M.)
David Burkhart (M60-64, Brighton, Mich.)
Kirsten Chapman (F50-54, Edmond, Okla.)
Kerry Mayer (M65-69, Brookfield, Wis.)
Robert Powers (M90+, White Bear Lake, Minn.)
Erica Ruge (F40-44, Rhinebeck, N.Y.)
Jennifer Scudiero (F30-34 and female overall winner, Eagan, Minn.)
Dave Slavinski (M40-44, Point Pleasant, N.J.)
Chelsea VanCott (F20-24, Oceanside, Calif.)*
Keith Woodward (M60-64, Stowe, Vt.)

*Indicates athlete is racing in the sprint event
**Indicates athlete is racing in the standard-distance event

Duathlon Nationals is the sole qualifying event for the age-group 2015 Standard- and Sprint-Distance ITU Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide, South Australia, on Oct. 14-18, 2015. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place, will qualify for Team USA.

Team USA is comprised of the nation’s top multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championships event. Visit usatriathlon.org for more on Team USA.

In addition to the weekend’s races, USA Triathlon and local St. Paul shop TrüBerry Frozen Yogurt have partnered to collect unwanted sneakers this week through July 19. Donated shoes will be given to Listening House of St. Paul, a day/evening shelter and community resource center that provides hospitality, practical assistance and counsel to people who are homeless, disadvantaged or lonely. Shoes may be dropped at 949 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and those donating shoes will receive a buy one, get one free item from TrüBerry.

Source: USA Triathlon
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Posted by: Joe English | July 15, 2014

Five Signs You Need to Stretch More

running-advice-bugI know that runners hate to stretch. You might think it’s kind of like flossing your teeth: you know it’s good for you, but you’re most likely only to do it when you have a dentist appointment next week or you’ve got a popcorn kernel stuck in your gums. Stretching is the same for many of us; stretching is one of those things that we do when something hurts or is slowing us down. But stretching your muscles has some great benefits, including preventing injuries, reducing soreness and potentially making you run faster.

Yoga On WallLook no further than elite runners at many races. Watch the Kenyans and Ethiopians do their warm-ups. They tend to stretch a lot as a group. The reason is that running actually tightens and shortens your muscles. In order to loosen (or lengthen) muscles, you need to stretch them out again. Think about how hard it is to run when you are feeling “tight”. Now think of trying to run really fast on tight muscles. That’s hard to do. These elite folks know that keeping loose and long muscles is what allows them to extend and keep their strides long.

Here are five signs that your body may be telling you that you need to stretch!

1. Your heels hurt before you get out of bed in the morning — if you’re lying in bed and you can feel your heels being tender then you need to work on stretching out your feet and calf muscles. This feeling may be the pre-cursor of the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the fascia in the feet — and it hurts a lot. The key is to make those feet and calves loose and limber. Start by stretching your feet even before you get out of bed in the morning.

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Why do you have to click to continue reading? Our blog was originally hosted here on WordPress and many, many people follow us here. So we post these excerpts as a courtesy to our readers but our main site is now our self-hosted www.running-advice.com which has way more stuff, including our video library, Amazon store and a guide to our more important articles. It is all still free.

Posted by: Joe English | July 9, 2014

Five Tips to Get Started with a New Run Training Schedule

running-advice-bugOne of my new marathon run training participants asked me this week for some help getting through the initial start-up stage of a marathon training plan. She was feeling over-whelmed with the adjustment to a scheduled exercise routine as well as the increasing distance on the long runs over the course of the plan. Here is a bit of her question:

tired-runner-630x421

“I think one of the hurdles that’s keeping me back is consistency, and if I just keep running three days a week I will probably make big gains quickly. but I also have been following [your] coaching message and understand that the weekend longs are really important. at the moment they’re just overwhelming to me, but I’m not giving up. I don’t want this to get so far ahead of me that I can’t catch up…”

First, I agree that consistency is the key. Just work on trying to find a way to get something in each day. Let’s say you only have 20 minutes. Put the gear on and do something for 20 minutes. It may not feel like much, but over time you will establish a pattern and as you get in shape you will go longer. Even someone like me that would like to exercise for four hours a day has days where I can only find a few minutes. I will still do a short workout to make sure that I have at least gone through the motions for the day.

Second, set a shorter term goal for yourself. How about setting a goal of doing 75% of the scheduled workouts over the next two weeks. Or doing your best to follow the schedule for one month? There are two things going on here. On the one hand, having a short-term goal is less overwhelming than looking out further at the marathon season or months ahead. And on the other hand, research suggests that, if we can do something consistently for about 28 days (a month) a pattern will take hold. Once a new pattern is established it is easier to keep it going.

With regard to the long runs, they are important to keep up. They are important primarily because the distance marches on, so to speak. If you get too far behind, it starts to feel overwhelming to catch up. (Just as you describe.) But this doesn’t mean that you can’t break them down and take them in pieces like you suggest. Finding a strategy to get through them may be the key to you. Running the whole thing may not be an option, but that’s OK too.

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Posted by: Joe English | June 23, 2014

Triathlon — Are Those Aero Wheels Worth the Money?

running-advice-bugI was talking to some athletes the other day after a race and the questioning from one of them went down a familiar road: are those expensive aero wheels worth the money? Today I wanted address this, but not from a scientific “do they work” context, but rather from the perspective of whether you as an athlete might actually benefit from them.

Coach Joe at Ironman Australia in 2013

Coach Joe at Ironman Australia in 2013

First things first, by aero wheels, what we’re discussing here are deep section rimmed wheels, disc wheels or even disc wheel covers: equipment for your bike to cut down on the wind resistance of your bike as it passes through the air. Many people have already written about this subject and if you were to survey the literature out there, you’d probably find that the recommendation is that you start with a aero bars and bike fit first, then go next with an aero helmet and save the aero wheels for last. The reason for this is two fold: first, the largest amount of aerodynamic drag comes from your body pushing through the wind, so getting yourself low and out of the wind makes the largest impact and second, this formula will generally give you the most bang for your buck.

Second, be sure to carefully understand what you’re getting yourself into when you start thinking about buying new wheels. You may be moving from Clinchers to Tubulars, for instance, meaning a whole new set of spare parts and equipment. I also found out the hard way that my new carbon wheels require carbon brake pads (which is not a big deal) but that they need to be swapped out when I move between my training and racing wheels. These kinds of issues should be sorted through before investing thousands into your new wheels.

When it comes to making a recommendation of whether to invest in aero wheels, I start by dividing people into three groups and then going from there. My groups would be: 1) beginner athletes, 2) intermediate to advanced athletes and 3) advanced and elite athletes looking for the greatest possible racing advantage.

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running-advice-bugLast weekend I was walking into a transition at a local race and I overheard a common exchange. One athlete asked the other how she was feeling and the other answered her back, “I’m scared to death!” So many times I have heard this expressed — and often in exactly those words. I can almost feel the pounding heart and the sweaty skin.

courage-is-being-scared-to-deathThese words “I’m scared to death” have real power. Of course, when we say them we’re not actually scared “to death.” It’s not as if Jaws is about to surface beneath us and bite our legs off or Jason is going to jump out from behind a tree with an ax and end our races with a mortal blow. (Although these days with the Zombie runs and other themed races, it could happen!) But the power of these words tells a lot about what’s going on in the mind.

“Scared to death” is an expression of fear. If you look it up in the dictionary the definition is “extremely scared.” The word “scared” itself means, “thrown into or being in a state of fear, fright, or panic.” The question is not whether we are actually scared before a race — as many people actually are — but rather do we really want to be in a “state of panic or fright” before a race? The answer, of course, is no.

What we want to be is control of our emotions, thinking clearly, and ready to do what we have trained to do. Achieving a clear head is not so easy when we’re seeing spots with fright.

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